Chemotherapy and Employment
A new study in the journal, Cancer, suggests that women 51 and older who receive chemotherapy as part of their treatment for breast cancer are 1.8 times more likely to have a change in their employment status than women who do not receive chemo. The change could be going on longterm disability, stopping work, or retiring. Radiation therapy did not make an impact on employment.
Here is a link to the study by Michael Hassett: http://www.medwire-news.md/46/82098/Oncology/Breast_cancer_chemo_may_affect_employment_status.html
I find this interesting and not reflective of my own observations. For one thing, at least this brief summary of the study does not discriminate between women who receive adjuvant chemotherapy and women who are being treated for metastatic breast cancer. Clearly, that is a very big distinction, and the employment issues are very different for the two situations.
In my experience, most women who are receiving adjuvant chemotherapy continue to work at least part-time. Of course, there are exceptions. Women who have jobs that are especially physically demanding (as in, I knew a carpenter who was working on Boston's infamous Big Dig) or expose them constantly to others' illnesses (as in, kindergarten teachers) or whose work situations are otherwise inflexible may well feel that it is easier to take a leave or go on short-term disability for the duration of treatment. Other women begin by modifying their work schedules and then find, as treatment continues, either that they need more time away or that they are feeling well enough to work more. I have known a few women who were motivated to take early retirement or leave a disliked job when they were diagnosed. For them, the cancer was almost an opportunity to do something they had hoped to do anyway (although, obviously, they would have preferred another reason for doing so).
Most women do need to flex their work schedules and take intermittent time off during breast cancer treatment. However, I was surprised by this study's conclusions and would love to hear your thoughts.
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